Steve Howson admits it’s ‘nice to feel wanted again’ at Chester as he looks to close off a difficult period in his career.

The 32-year-old enjoyed a terrific spell with Salford City having joined the Ammies in 2015, helping them win promotion into National League North and was part of their memorable run to the FA Cup second round.

Injury ended Howson’s time at Salford, released at the end of the 2016/17 season, a decision he admits was tough to take, but a successful spell with Curzon Ashton last season led to a mid-season switch to Southport.

Released by the Sandgrounders at the end of the campaign, the centre-half has now been reunited with former bosses Anthony Johnson and Bernard Morley at Chester scoring in Saturday’s 5-3 pre-season victory over Runcorn Linnets.

“I’m loving my time here so far,” he said. “I’ve got my first goal now too, although I don’t know if that one really counts with it being a friendly!

“There’s some great people here and the fans have been great so far. We just can’t wait to get going with the serious stuff. We’re loving it, there’s a great bunch of lads here with more to come in as well, and they will be the right sort of characters because Jonno and Bernard don’t settle for anything less.

“It really is nice to feel wanted again. I had a frustrating end to the season when I left Salford due to my injury.

“I felt I did well last year at Curzon Ashton and got my move on to Southport, hence the reason Jonno and Bernard wanted me back. But something feels nice at Chester, it feels like there is something happening which is going to be good to be a part of. It feels right and hopefully we can have a good year.”

Chester’s nine summer signings got their first taste of a sell-out crowd at the Deva for the curtain-raising friendly with Liverpool and Howson believes a strong start in National League North would lead to crowds beginning to rise once more.

“We said afterwards when we all had a drink together just what the place could be like if we can get a good start,” he continued.

“If we could get a good start we could get those kinds of crowds on a regular basis and have the fans getting behind us again. Winning breeds confidence and the people of the city will get behind us if we can start delivering a winning team for them.”

Joint-boss Johnson offered some stinging criticism of Chester’s defending at Runcorn, and although Howson admitted the goals conceded were ‘shocking’, he feels those errors will be ‘ironed out’ by the big kick-off on August 4 when Spennymoor Town are the visitors.

“You could tell it was a pre-season friendly. It was scruffy, we gave away some shocking goals. It’s a good job it’s happened now and not in three weeks’ time.

“It’s about getting minutes under the belt, ironing out those mistakes, and we go into Friday and we’ve really got to kick on. We know we’ve got to be better, but winning is a good habit to get into, whether that’s 1-0, 2-0, or 5-3, so we’ll take that.

“Scoring five is fantastic, it means we get away with the defensive mistakes! But it was disappointing to concede in the manner we did.

“It’s a brand new back four and it’ll take a couple of weeks to get used to it, and how we play and the way Jonno and Bernard want us to play.

“We’re playing quite an expansive game, but we’ve got to iron out those mistakes and the sooner we do that the better.”